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ADHD medication for amphetamine addiction linked to reduced risk of hospitalization and death, study finds

The ADHD medication lisdexamfetamine was associated with the lowest risk of hospitalisation and death in people with amphetamine addiction, when medications generally used among persons with substance use disorders were compared. This is shown in a large registry-based study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden in collaboration with the University of Eastern Finland and Niuvanniemi Hospital, published in JAMA Psychiatry.

“Our results suggest that lisdexamfetamine is associated with the best outcomes, and encourage the conduction of randomized controlled trials to explore this further,” says Jari Tiihonen, professor at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, and the study’s last author.

Amphetamines are the second most used illicit drugs in the world and amphetamine-related hospitalisations are increasing substantially.

However, there are currently no approved pharmacological interventions available for treating addiction to amphetamine or the variant methamphetamine. Certain medications have shown promising results, but to date, the studies have often been small and convincing evidence is lacking.

In the present study, the researchers investigated the association between generally used medications among persons with substance use disorder and the risk of two primary outcomes in people with amphetamine or methamphetamine use disorder: 1) hospitalisation due to substance use disorder or 2) hospitalisation due to any cause, or death.

The study included nearly 14,000 individuals; all residents aged 16 to 64 years living in Sweden with a registered first-time diagnosis of amphetamine or methamphetamine use disorder from July 2006 to December 2018. Individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder were excluded.

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